Prague-based art director, designer and illustrator Pavel Fuksa has been tapped as a panelist at this year’s Ad Stars in South Korea.
Over the course of his career, Fuksa has worked for agencies such as Saatchi, JWT or Y&R as a Creative Director across three continents. He has also done design and illustration work for clients such as Google, Facebook, Independent, Fortune, Mercedes or Qatar Airlines.
Barbara Messer recently caught up with Fuksa to talk about his work, the creative scene in Prague and more.
You have worked at famous agencies, but you are now a freelance art director and designer. Do you prefer the freelance life?
I currently work as an independent creative director for clients from all around the world, creating concepts, visual solutions and campaigns for their brands, big or small, international or truly local.
That gives me freedom to choose the most intriguing projects and dedicate the most to their development. I am often called in to help the creative departments of global agencies on some demanding projects, so I’d say I am semi-freelance at the moment.
I am not such a big fan of the post-modern anti-everything contemporary style, but hey – when used cleverly and with an interesting twist, almost every style could become eye–catching.
It is sometimes quite challenging to keep your routine while fully freelance, but fortunately, I have teamed up with a few colleagues of mine who help me utilize my talents at their most.
I love your typography & illustration projects. How do you find time for personal projects?
I used to have way more time to do my personal projects. The inspiration for them came at the most unexpected times while traveling on the highway, while falling asleep, in the shower, while cooking.
I still keep my notepad at hand where I write down all the ideas and try to design them or at least sketch them, every time there is a free timeslot. I must say it’s become quite difficult in the last year, thanks to the amount of work pouring in.
What inspired your ‘Safety in Advertising’ propaganda-style posters?
That was a personal project I did with my then-colleague, Eugen Suman, after we read the book on retro communist posters and their design language. We imagined, how would an agency in 60s socialist Czechoslovakia or Romania use such warning posters to educate their employees?
You are obviously inspired by music. Does listening to music influence your creative process?
Music influences my creative process quite heavily. I love working for music bands, trying to express or pass along my personal perception or impressions from music, while trying to add a clever or sharp-witted twist or surprise, that would catch a reader’s eye and brains.
When I first saw your illustrations for ‘Dirty Coursebooks’ I thought they weren’t real, but now I can see that Porn Studies is an actual journal! How did this project come about?
Exactly, that came up – again – as a personal project after I discovered that one of the British universities was opening their “Porn Studies” course. I immediately imagined what the course books would look like, what would the beginner’s course include? And then I started designing.
I wanted to give it a geometry-based layout after the traditional ’60s Penguin book covers. Then, Karolina Galacz (now Deputy CD at Y&R Hungary) together with Eugen Suman stepped in and we turned it into a successful and awarded campaign for Harley-Davidson.
What can you tell me about the creative scene in Prague?
The creative scene in Prague is rising slowly – we have some interesting advertising agencies (Kaspen, mainly), which are often awarded for their work on Budweiser Budvar, as well as some small studios and individuals. However, the market in the Czech Republic is somehow small and, in the practice of early capitalism, the appetite of the clients for a truly creative solution is quite rarely to be found. Instead, they seek after the traditional, boring solution in order to stay on the safe side. But as I said, we’re getting there 🙂
Your style has been described as “a complex retro style with a slightly nostalgic feel”. What is your favorite design era?
My favorite design era would be post-WWII, the decades of 1950-1980. I am not such a big fan of the post-modern anti-everything contemporary style, but hey – when used cleverly and with an interesting twist, almost every style could become eye–catching.
You will be judging Ad Stars in August. Why did you accept the invitation to join this year’s jury?
I have been to South Korea once briefly – I am looking forward to experiencing this wonderful country closer and for some longer time. I have accepted the invitation to judge AD STARS mainly because I adore Asian visual culture and would be thrilled to judge and encounter the very best from this colorful and witty visual playground.
You can see more from Pavel Fuksa here.